Eight Tips for Race Day
You put the date in your mind’s calendar then finally committed to it by signing up. You formulated a training plan, bought a new pair of shoes, then took your first steps out the door and around the block. Yes, you’ve done it — you’re running a race.
Despite all the training, how do you ensure that as you toe the starting line you’ll not only enjoy the day but also run your best? There are definitely a few DO’s and DON’T’s that you can practice to maximize your chances of crossing the line having given it your all.
- Don’t wear anything on race day that you’ve never worn in training. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen first-timers (and veterans who should know better) who decide to try out a new pair of shoes or socks on race day only to end up with terrible blisters or foot cramps.
- Even better, wear your race day “outfit” once or twice during training the week before the race. You’ll show up at your event brimming with confidence knowing that if you “look good, you’ll feel good.”
- On a similar note, lay out all your race gear the night before so you’re not fumbling around trying to find that favorite pair of running tights as the clock ticks away. The last thing you want on race day is the added stress and anxiety of running (pun intended) late.
- Many road races are morning events — so if you’re not used to training or racing before you’ve had your 10 a.m. snack, you give it a try for three to four consecutive days in the week prior to the race. Part of running well is in the routine of your training, and if you’re trying to get the most out of the experience you don’t want to make race day the first time you’ve given it all that you have that early in the morning.
- For the longer races such as 10K and up, just like shoes and socks, don’t eat or drink anything at aid stations that you’ve not tried out during training or competing. The last thing you want in the middle of the race is GI issues that leave you running toward the Porta Potty instead of the finish line.
- Not sure about the best way to keep hydrated during the race? Research has pretty well defined that if your race is less than an hour there is no need to hydrate with anything other than water. Why? Because your body has fuel stores that’ll last approximately 90 minutes; hence, the glucose you take in as part of a sports drink that’s meant to prolong your fuel stores at best does you no good and at worst causes you the same GI issues mentioned above.
- Do you know the course? If not, check it out the day before. Seriously, I can share numerous stories where runners have taken wrong turns and run blocks and miles farther than needed — or worse, led trailing runners along with them.
- Try not to constantly check your watch during your race — it’ll only stress you out. If you’re feeling good, go with it and ride that wave all the way to the finish. Alternatively, if you didn’t meet your time goal (provided you had one), don’t beat yourself up too much. Use the race as a learning experience.
While this list could most certainly go on, the last bit of advice I have for you is to trust your training and all the prep work you’ve done to get to the starting line — and then treat race day just like any other day of running.
The sport of distance running doesn’t just leave you exhilarated after a workout — it’s a way of life. Whether you’re running for an all-time best or pure enjoyment, just getting out on the road makes for a better day.